Noticing

from: My Thoughts Are CloudsPoems for Mindfulness by Georgia Heard

Today my school reinstated our middle school clubs for the last trimester. This year my club is Poetry Workshop. Some of the students in my club chose to be there while others were assigned, so I wanted to make sure I had activities that would appeal to the reluctant writer as well as the enthusiast.

We began with a short video about poetry, and then proceeded to select notebooks which the school provided, and pens with colored ink (Dollar Store finds). Next, I shared “If I Were in Charge of the World” by Judith Viorst. The students were provided with a copy of the poem to tape into their notebooks along with a template to help them create their own version of the poem.

We then tried our hand at Zip Code or Phone # poems by writing the numbers vertically – one number on each line. The number became the number of words permitted on each line. Zero was a ‘wild card’ where poets could choose their own number of words.

I gave them a little pep talk before the bell rang and told them that poetry can be about ANYTHING! We talked about how writers and poets are ordinary people who take the time to NOTICE THE ORDINARY things they come across each day.

I closed by sharing the poem above, “Open Your Eyes” by Georgia Heard. I challenged them to open their eyes, notice the ordinary, and gather their observations for our next meeting after the Easter break.

Tonight, I think I will take my own advice and start looking more closely at the ‘ordinary’.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Tired

I didn’t sleep well last night, and I am paying the price now. Too tired for more than a quick draft of a poem.

Exhaustion sets in
when the movement
slows
down.

The day
is quick-paced
yet long.

School
has ended,
but, the work has not.

Keep pushing.
Keep grinding.
Keep doing.

BUT DON’T FORGET!!

Wind down.
Listen to your body,
to your heart.
Sleep, dream, refresh.

Tomorrow will be here
all
to
soon.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

ID Required

I belong to several Facebook writing communities, and I got this idea from Leigh Anne Eck. She is hosting a slicer party and to be invited you need to bring your “identification.” Leigh Anne used “Depending on When you Met Me” by Devon Gundry, Soul Pancake as her mentor text; I used Leigh Anne’s post as mine.

Depending on when you met me, I might have been:

  • a shy elementary student with a lisp who didn’t make the cheerleading squad
  • a Girl Scout who was a member of a competitive distance and slalom racing canoe team named Boone’s Bunnies
  • a high school bass player playing on the stage of the Academy of Music with the Philadelphia All-City Orchestra
  • a Burger King employee in an ugly orange uniform and smelling like fries
  • a young bride who married her high school sweetheart right after college and started a family a little over a year later
  • a music teacher who produced all-school musicals on a shoestring budget for 23 years
  • an ELA teacher who shares her birthday witih The National Day on Writing
  • a Nona to the most adorable four grandchildren

I love this format and may continue on my list in my notebook. Thanks Leigh Anne for the inspiration.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Writing What I Love

I am a writer. It took me many, many years to be able to say those words aloud or write them on a page, but it took me even longer to come to terms with what I write. As a writer I kept trying to find a format that felt comfortable while comparing myself to my writing project colleagues who were successful writers of professional books for teachers, fiction, professional articles, picture books. I tried my hand at those genres, and actually had an article published in Today’s Catholic Teacher Magazine and an essay in A Cup of Comfort for Teachers. When I stopped trying to write what I thought I ‘should’ write, I discovered what I loved to write – poetry and essays.

Poetry appeals to my senses and emotions. It’s variety of form, freedom from/of conventions, and economy of words provide me with choices and challenges that feed my writing hunger. Essays are like having a conversation with a friend.

I am sure that if I worked at it I could write professional articles or fiction, but if I stay true to the voice within me, my focus will remain on poetry and essay writing. Those are what bring me joy.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Spring

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

Algernon Charles Swinburn

Saturday is usually my recovery day. I allow my body to relax after a busy week of interacting with my students. This year has been extra challenging in so may ways, and my body can’t wait for Saturdays, but today I woke up with a lightness in my heart and a feeling of renewal.

Today is the vernal equinox – blackberry winter – season of grass – spring! I don’t know if is was the sunshine peeking in through the blinds, the knowledge that my son was getting his vaccine, or the fact that I slept in for a change, but I felt a peacefulness that I haven’t felg in a very, very long time.

Blossom by blossom, cool breeze by cool breeze, Saturday by Saturday life is beginning again.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Week in Review

Things That Made Me Smile

  • Watching my 7th graders enthusiastically creating stories
  • The end of Terra Nova Testing
  • My grandson’s reaction to getting a set of base ten blocks
  • My son getting a vaccine appointment
  • A long overdue phone conversation with a trusted friend

Words to Describe My Week

  • LONG
  • PRODUCTIVE
  • EXHAUSTING
  • SATISFYING

Things I Plan To Do This Weekend

  • Enjoy the sunshine
  • Finish a book
  • Start a new book

Things I Learned This Week

  • I cannot make an appointment without gettting the name of the person to whom I am speaking
  • There is something good in every day

Goal for Next Week

  • Take better care of myself

I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Perfection

I am receiving daily writing prompts in my inbox courtesy of Lisa Sonora and her FIRE: 30 Day Journal Project. One of today’s prompts was, “If I wasn’t waiting for perfection, I would…”

I love to draw with colored pencils and markers, but I am always very critical of my work. I haven’t had formal training, not even real art classes when I was in elementary or high school. I didn’t have the privilege of having a talented art teacher like Robin Schmidt, who taught my children for eight years. The work they created was beautiful and imaginative. Robin inspired her students, and many of them went on to careers in art, and many of them just developed a love for art and creativity.

A couple of summers ago, I attended a one-night water color workshop at my local library as part of their Adult Summer Reading program. The summer program had an outer space theme, and we would be painting galaxies. The instructor walked us through the process, and we practiced the technique for a bit before beginning the actual project. We were able to look at actual space illustrations to use as “mentor texts.”

I was hesitant to begin and even more resistant to mixing colors, but I knew of no galaxy which was completely primary colored. I decided just to go for it and see how things turned out. I was pretty pleased with my finished product.

After that workshop, I intended to take a water color class, but never did. The school year started, and then Covid hit, and plans were put on hold. I bought myself some great water color markers and a book to inspire my drawing. I have a dollar store sketch book that doesn’t get used enough, but might just come out of hiding very soon.

Although I am not a Piccaso or a Monet, I am going to make a point to draw more and explore my artistic abilities. What do I have to lose?

What would you do if you weren’t waiting for perfection?

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Inspiration

Today my 7th-grade ELA inspired me. We are in the middle of standardized testing with today being an off day, so I wanted to have the class engage in a lighter activity yet still work on curriculum. Our grammar work is focused on independent and dependent clauses and how they can make your writing stronger, and of course we always have an vocabulary unit in motion. Today’s assignment was to work independently, with a partner, or in a group of three and write a story and try to incorporate some of the vocab words and grammar skills.

Some story writers were more successful than others in incorporating the skills, but that didn’t really matter because the were all writing; I mean really working together and creating. A few of the groups shared their stories with the class. There was an NBA player with a lucky coin in his shoe, a friend who anticipates her best friend’s homecoming from summer camp only to realize there is a new “best friend” in the picture, and an adventure in leprechaun catching. The kids really enjoyed themselves which was so heart-warming to see.

There are various types of writing required of 7th-graders, but none gets them excited the way creating stories does. It was so inspiring to watch them collaborate (while social distancing of course), laugh, get excited to add details to the story, and to just be kids.

Soon these 7th-graders will be 8th-graders and then flying off to high school. I want them to fly on the wings of imagination and confident voices. I want them to imagine all the possibilities the world holds for them and be confident in being a voice for change in the world. What they have to say matters.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

Anticipation

Five down, one to go. That’s the tally of vaccinated adults in my immediate family. Two of us are fully vaccinated, three will get their second shots the week after Easter, and the last one should hopefully get one soon through the school district in which he teaches. I know how difficult it is to get an appointment, and I certainly don’t want to make anyone still trying to get an appointment feel badly. I just am feeling like I can finally start looking forward to what is coming.

For so long I couldn’t even think about life going back to “normal” or making plans There is so many things I miss about life pre-Covid. These are some of the things I am most looking forward to doing again.

  • hugging my kids and grandkids
  • sleepovers with the grandkids
  • family dinners
  • seeing my siblings
  • my sister’s wedding in June
  • a massage
  • getting back to the pool at the gym

Over the past year, I have thought a great deal about what is really important in life, and experiencing lockdown, fear, and anxiety has cemented those thoughts. Covid exposed the great differences between the haves and the have nots, those who could work remotely and those who had no choice but to work in person every day, and many other disparities people experience. However, I think we all wanted the same thing – for our families to be safe. I am more hopeful for the future than I have been in a long, long time.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21

March 15th

March 15 – the ides of March. This day is always associated with the death of Julius Caesar, yet for me it was always just my dad’s birthday. He would have been 93 today if he hadn’t passed away 25 years ago. I didn’t really have a story to write about him today, so I went searching for other things associated with March 15th, and boy was I surprised!

It seems that there is a holiday or national day of something or other every time you turn around, and today is not different. Did you know that today was National Napping Day? Now that’s a holiday I can get behind! It occurs on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time each year, and in its honor I dutifully took a nap after our early dinner. (Really I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and set my phone alarm to get up and blog before retiring to bed.)

Today is also National Act Happy Day which was invented in by Dr. Dale Anderson “in an effort to promote the health benefits of happiness, humor and laughter”. This had me scratching my head; is this another name for “fake it till you make it day?” If that’s the case then we’ve all had lots of practice with this over the past year!

One holiday celebrated today that I definitely won’t be celebrating is True Confession Day. It was “founded by Thomas & Ruth Roy of Wellcat Holidays™, True Confessions Day is a way of encouraging those keeping secrets (so let’s face it, all of us!) to confess them.” This couple has come up with over 80 holidays! They must really love to celebrate. I don’t find anything appealing about True Confession day though; some secrets are best taken to the grave.

Last but not least on my little research journey is National Everything You Think is Wrong Day which was every day during the days of parenting teenagers. I hope you didn’t make any big decisions today because they were most likely wrong according to the description of this holiday. But no worries, tomorrow is Everything You Do is Right Day (I kid you not!), so you can fix any mistakes you made today.

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I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge for the month of March. I will be posting every day this month. It is sponsored by twowritingteachers.org. #SOL21